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SWFF Annual Report

SWFF Annual Report

USAID and the Government of Sweden launched the Securing Water for Food (SWFF) grand challenge for development in September 2013 during the World Water Week in Stockholm. Within two years after the launch, the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the Republic of South Africa joined the party of Founding Partners. Through SWFF, the partners have worked to identify and accelerate science and technology innovations and market-driven approaches that improve water sustainability to boost food security and ultimately alleviate poverty.

SWFF aims to increase access to innovations that help farmers produce more food with less water, enhance water storage, and improve the use of saline water and soils to produce food. Water Governance Institute (WGI) responded to SWFF call for proposals in 2015 and was selected as a winner from among 408 applications, representing 67 countries.

Twelve winners of the award were selected from the applications. WGI's winning proposal was titled "Promoting Commercial Aquaponics Farming Among Smallholder Farmers/Households for Water Efficiency, Food Security and Livelihoods Improvement in Uganda". The project will initially be implemented in 4 districts of Uganda; namely Kampala, Kamuli, Hoima and Adjumani that were selected based on their high poverty indices.

Kampala was selected because it is the central administrative center of the country; has wide gap between the rich and poor; and suffers from escalation of population as a result of rural-to-urban migration which is challenging the adequate delivery of social goods and services

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In the past, I have written in the media highlighting the avenues in which oil and its associated revenues could be stolen resulting in Uganda getting peanuts in return.

Some of the few avenues I cited included wrongful recording (metering) of oil production; inaccurate declaration of petroleum in stock and that which is sold (lifted); differences between the oil reserve price and the actual market price (windfall), government investments backed by oil revenues; oil supplies to government in cases of war, threat of war or other crises; and inflation of production costs by oil companies.

When I wrote about these issues at the time, I chose to be silent on the other avenues of theft related to tax and profit revenues to avoid overloading the readers.

However, this week I read with great interest online that the “Albertine Graben Refinery Consortium (AGRC) signs oil refinery pact with Uganda”.

I noticed some interesting facts, some members of the consortium are registered in Mauritius – a tax haven country that has a Double Taxation Agreement (DTA) with government of Uganda and one in which International Companies form a complex web of subsidiaries (shell companies) to siphon profits out of the host (resident) countries (in this case Uganda) that have DTAs in the guise of professional fees, management fees, dividend transfers, interest payments on loans/ credits internally obtained, profit shifting, transfer pricing, tax planning, tax avoidance and tax evasion schemes.

The space here is not enough for me to fully explain how each of these schemes are utilized to reduce the amount of tax and profits that finally accrue to government of Uganda.

But suffice to say that they are schemes that make false claims that appear genuine to a person that does not understand them.

Double Taxation Agreements (DTAs) are signed between two states to remove the problem of an individual paying tax on the same income twice.

In the absence of a DTA, an international person, say from the UK working in Uganda, would have to pay the full income tax (30%) in Uganda (if he/she spent 183 days in Uganda) and also pay the same income tax when the money is sent to his/her UK account.

DTAs are intended to allow the country from where the income was made (i.e. source country) to take a small proportion of the taxable income and leave the balance to be taken by the country where the person normally lives (i.e. domicile country).

While this seems to be a very good arrangement, which it is, it is often abused resulting in a person paying lesser tax on both sides or not paying tax in either country which is referred to as Double None Taxation.

For example, some of the International Oil Companies (IOCs) are shareholders of the Uganda Refinery Holding Company (URHC) whose interests will be managed by a special purpose Company called the Refinery Company (RC). Please note that the URHC is a subsidiary of Uganda National Oil Company (NOC).

In addition to this not so complex web of companies, there are multiple relationships between the IOCs, their subsidiaries abroad and their parent companies in the domicile countries.

The IOC subsidiaries are usually domiciled in countries that have zero or very small taxes (i.e. tax havens) compared with other countries or countries where the host country has DTAs.

IOCs will then use their subsidiaries to claim falsified costs or route their dividends and profits to minimize or avoid or evade taxes in the host (source) and home (domicile) countries.

The effect of this is that government of Uganda would receive reduced taxes and profits on the petroleum products.

It is such schemes that are responsible for the Capital Flight (illicit financial flows) report on the African continent.

Uganda needs to understand the relationships between the Albertine Graben Refinery Consortium (AGRC) members with their subsidiaries and parent companies abroad and how they are engaging each other to execute businesses in Uganda, so as to seal the loopholes. Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) needs to up its game in monitoring and tracking contracts, sales and revenues in the petroleum and mining sector.

Government also needs to address the problem of tax loss related to an individual not being classified as being resident in Uganda (i.e. staying less than the stipulated 183 days in Uganda).

Mr. Henry Mugisha Bazira is the Executive Director, Water Governance Institute (WGI) and founding Chairperson of the Civil Society Coalition on Oil and Gas (CSCO) in Uganda; Member of the Energy and Extractives Working Group (ESWG) of the Uganda Contracts Monitoring Coalition (UCMC) and Tax Justice Alliance Uganda (TJAU).



Government through the Energy Ministry on Tuesday marked yet another milestone in the country’s oil and gas sector, by signing the Project Framework Agreement (PFA) for construction of the Oil Refinery in Hoima District.

The PFA was signed by the Energy Ministry and the Albertine Graben Refinery Consortium (AGRC) which was selected in June last year to negotiate the agreement.

Uganda entered the agreement with AGRC to develop, design, finance, construct, operate and maintain of the oil refinery in Hoima district.

The signing of the PFA will lead to the commencement of pre-Final Investment Decision (FID) activities such as Front-End Engineering and Design (FEED), Project Capital and Investment Costs Estimations (PCE), Environmental and Social Impact Assessments (ESIA), among others.

President Yoweri Museveni who witnessed the signing at State House Entebbe, expressed commitment to continue a sustainable and desirable development of an oil and gas industry in the country in partnership with diverse group of private sector partners for the benefit of Uganda and the region.

The Parties to the Agreement are: – (i) Government of the Republic of Uganda (Acting through the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development), The Uganda National Oil Company Limited, YAATRA Africa (Mauritius), Lionworks Group Limited (Mauritius), Nuovo Pignone International SRL – A General Electric Company (Italy) and SAIPEM SPA (Italy).

Under the PFA, AGRC will be responsible for funding the pre-FID activities listed above and will proceed thereafter to construct and operate the refinery.

The refinery will be developed as a commercially viable venture with a regional market focus.

It will supply its products that will include kerosene, petrol, diesel, heavy fuel oils, among others to the Ugandan and regional markets.



Museveni in a group photo with government officials and representatives of the oil consortium


It is believed that this will not only improve access to these products but also create employment as well contribute to national development.

The refinery is planned to have a 60,000 Barrels per Day refining capacity and will rely on crude oil from Uganda’s oil fields under development.

During the term of the Agreement, the Albertine Graben Refinery Consortium (AGRC) shall establish a profitable and commercially viable refinery that delivers refined products to the market.

The consortium will be required to raise the required finances for the Project and deliver a cost effective, technologically sound and environmentally compliant refinery design that creates jobs and skills development for Ugandans.

The Project will be implemented by a Special Purpose Company, the Refinery Company, to be incorporated by the Private investors and the Uganda Refinery Holding Company, a subsidiary of the Uganda National Oil Company.


SOURCE: chimp reports


Government through the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development has revealed that it will focus on achieving local content in the Oil and Gas sector.

Local content is the development of local skills, oil and gas technology transfer, and use of local manpower and local manufacturing.

However, Government believes that to score this target, efforts of other institutions will be much required.

This was revealed by Peter Aimat Lokeris, the current Minister of State for Minerals during a press conference shortly after the first session of the Oil and Gas local content stakeholder dialogue, a two-day event being held at Hotel Africana.

“We decided that we should organize ourselves to get what we call local content,” started the Minister.

“But to achieve local content in Uganda’s oil sector, it will require combined efforts of all Companies like Banks, Private Oil companies, Environmentalists etc,” he added.

“The local content anticipates that Ugandans are involved, hence the calling of this workshop: to tell those who are involved and those who are aspiring to be involved what they are supposed to do and that’s why we are exhausting the presentations.”

He also urged all companies to participate and partner with the people in Uganda and Tanzania so as they can also benefit from the projects so as it is not seen as a ‘White Elephant’.

Through that, the Minister said that the industry will now be safe without need for security because everyone will be happy and contented, hence harmony and smoothness in trade.

The two day Oil and Gas dialogue was also attended by Ernest Nwapa from Nigeria, Association of Uganda Oil and Gas Suppliers (AUGOS) and The Association of Tanzania Oil and Gas Service Providers (ATOGS) officials –Prof. Charles Kwesiga and Ambassador Sefue Ombeni.

Speaking at the event, Ambassador Sefue noted: “This is a non-precedent level of political will that this project should be done in a manner that benefits our people both in Uganda and Tanzania.”

He added, “As the two associations, we try to bring two sides together; what the government wants to achieve and what our people are entitled to in terms of accessing the value of the resource.”

On his part, Ernest Nwapa said:  “From the discussions I have witnessed, I can confirm that these two countries (Uganda and Tanzania) are well prepared, because they have already witnessed where other countries failed. Am very impressed because what I have seen and heard is far ahead than where we were at this very stage way back in Nigeria and I hope that next time when I come here, we will be exporting Ugandan Petroleum.”


SOURCE: Chimp reports

Displaced. Residents in a camp in Hoima District following eviction from a piece of land where a company plans to set up an oil waste plant. PHOTO BY FRANCIS MUGERWA 


KABAROLE. The discovery of commercially viable oil deposits in the Albertine basin in western Uganda excited many Ugandans.
It is estimated that Uganda will earn between $2 billion and $3 billion per year when commercial oil production begins.

Government officials, including President Museveni, have promised that the petroleum revenues will be invested in infrastructural projects and social services aimed at uplifting people out of poverty.
In readiness to extract this valuable resource from the ground, government has commenced construction of 10 critical oil roads. Equally, there is an ongoing survey for an East African oil pipeline and feeder pipelines that will transport crude oil from the wells to the refinery. Construction work is expected to commence this year.

The construction of an international airport is also underway in Buseruka Sub-county, Hoima District, in an area zoned for the refinery. After concluding the first phase of oil exploration in the Albertine basin, where 6.5 billion barrels of crude oil have been confirmed, there are ongoing studies and other processes aimed at kick starting commercial oil production by 2020.

“It is our hope and desire that the infrastructural developments, which are being implemented in Bunyoro Sub-region, will improve on the welfare of our people. As a kingdom, we are mobilising our people to tap the social-economic opportunities of these infrastructural projects,” says Mr Andrew Byakutaga, the Bunyoro Kingdom prime minister.


The Omukama, Dr Solomon Gafabusa Iguru, has appointed oil professionals in his administration, among them Dr Kabagambe Kaliisa, the former permanent secretary in the Energy ministry, who has been appointed the kingdom’s royal commissioner in-charge of oil.
However, as Uganda moves closer to becoming an oil producing state, the mixed impacts of the oil industry are a reality for communities hosting the petroleum resource.

Early last month, Mr Byakutaga told President Museveni that his people were finding it difficult to get jobs and businesses in the oil industry and in the infrastructural projects. 
Hoima District chairman Kadiri Kirungi says the expectations by the local people to get jobs accruing from the oil industry were high since the construction of the airport started.
But the format of the recruitment process was not clear, with contractors bringing in workers from other parts of the country to do jobs that area residents can handle.


“There is a need for locals to benefit from the airport project. If the project ends without creating any economic impact in Hoima District, then it will be a disservice to our local people,” Mr Kirungi notes.
Mr Francis Kyaligonza, the leader of more than 500 youth, who are pushing for an equal share of jobs at the Hoima airport, in a February 13 letter to the Inspector General of Police, notified companies constructing the airport not to discriminate against the locals when it comes to jobs.

“It is against the said background that we notify you over the same and request for protection in terms of security personnel during the intended demonstration scheduled for February 20, starting at 9am at Hoima Boma ground,” Mr Kyaligonza’s letter read in part.
Local leaders persuaded them to halt the demonstration in a bid to give room for the leaders to address their concerns.

On February 21, Bunyoro Kingdom officials, government ministers hailing from the sub-region and MPs who met SBC Uganda, the contractor for the airport, agreed to suspend recruitment process until it was streamlined.
“It is the desire of government oil projects to succeed. But the success cannot be achieved when local communities are sidelined or marginalised. We need a win-win situation for the contractors, government and the citizens,” said Mr Ernest Kiiza, the Bunyoro Affairs minister, who chaired the meeting between local leaders and airport contractors.

Upcoming projects
During the oil production preparation phase, Dr Kaliisa, also a senior presidential advisor on oil and gas, says more than 500 wells will be drilled.
He says the planned construction of oil pipelines, central processing facilities, the oil refinery, an airport and the roads are expected to attract a total investment worth more than $12 billion in the Albertine region.
He advises that the social-economic, environmental and engineering aspects of each project are undertaken in an inclusive and sustainable manner.

Driven by the desire to tap into the lucrative looming oil business, area residents in 2012 formed the Bunyoro Business Club. However, with more than 70 companies registered under the club, only a handful succeeded in tapping into the businesses during the oil exploration phase. 
Others are dormant because they lost hope in getting contracts in the oil sector, says Mr Samuel Mugisa, the club chairperson.

Nevertheless, 30 companies from the sub-region are registered in the national suppliers’ data base that is run by the Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU).
Mr Mugisa hopes that with the upcoming commercial oil production, the petrol dollars will increase in the pockets of the communities hosting the oil resource.

Government speaks out

Speaking at the launch of the East African crude oil pipeline project in November last year, the Energy ministry permanent secretary, Mr Robert Kasande, explained that during the oil exploration phase, $3.2b was spent on the purchase of goods and services.
He added that of this, about $900m was spent on contracts to local suppliers.
“In the next three years, we expect expenditure of not less than $15b during the oil development stage. Government is doing all it can to sensitise our people, build their capacities so that if only 40 per cent of the contracts are given to Ugandans, they will earn about $6b,” Mr Kasande said.

Industries, warehouses and new service providers have since mushroomed in the sub-region. The value of land has also appreciated, leading to more than land conflicts and controversial land evictions.
The investors are positioning themselves to provide goods and services to oil workers and the increasing population in the sub-region. Mr Simon Kinene Agaba, the Buliisa District chairperson, says the oil industry requires higher skills and capacities which many locals do not have.

Mr Kinene, who is also the chairperson of the Albertine Graben Oil and Gas Districts Association, which unites districts in the oil region, says there is a need for communities to learn from other oil producing states.

Appeal for sensitisation

The Buliisa District community development officer, Mr Bernard Barugahara, adds that more sensitisation is required for communities on matters of financial management.
He says when oil companies compensated families whose properties were affected during the oil exploration phase, some beneficiaries became wild.

“Some men abandoned their children and opted to marry new wives. People are repeating the same mistakes. There are people washing their motorcycles with beer. Others are hiring bouncers and prostitutes have come into the district. We need to mitigate these social challenges,” Mr Barugahara says.


Source:  Daily monitor

"When you allow work to be done outside of your country, you are depriving your people of opportunities to learn, innovate and get jobs," Nwapa said.


Peter 703x422

PIC: Peter Lokeris, the state minister for minerals. (File photo)


KAMPALA - A national content expert from Nigeria, Dr. Ernest Nwapa, has urged Ugandans to insist on the use of local content in the oil and gas industry.

The former executive secretary of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board said only through national content will Uganda reap the most benefit from the oil resource.

“When you allow work to be done outside of your country, you are depriving your people of opportunities to learn, innovate and get jobs. You are creating those same opportunities for others,” he said.

Nwapa made the remarks during a conference organised by the Uganda Oil and Gas Service Providers in partnership with Association of Tanzania Oil and Gas Service Providers on Wednesday in Kampala. 

The state minister for minerals, Peter Lokeris, said it is important to address the skills gap before commercial oil eventually starts. The Government has earmarked first oil for the end of 2020.

“Welding a pipeline for oil to flow through requires a lot of skill because you do not want any spills. Gas is inflammable,” he said.

Oil and gas activities in Uganda are entering a critical stage as the country gets closer to first commercial oil production, more than 10 years since the 6.5 billion barrels of reserves were discovered.

The three anchor-projects for the industry, the Tilenga upstream project, the Kingfisher oilfield project and the East African Crude Oil Pipeline, are in the final stages of Front-End Engineering Design (FEED).

After FEED results are released, final investment decisions will be taken, before the engineering, procurement and construction phase commences.


SOURCE: New vision 

WGI Staff and Board members after the meeting. 

Water Governance institute had a successful annual board meeting on 16th March 2018 at Sheraton Hotel, Kampala. The meeting involved presentations on the Extractives & Aquaponics projects by Ms.Taremwa Diana, the Programme Officer (Extractives) and Ms. Nalwoga Aisha, Fishers Officer respectively. In attendance were all WGI staff and Board members. 


 View the pictorial highlights of the meeting below.


Residents of the oil-rich Buliisa district have petitioned Government to implement for them an affirmative action programme intended to protect their land rights.

During the different dialogues organized across seven sub-counties and one town council, with support from ActionAid Uganda, residents and their leaders decried the increased insecurity over land ownership ever since commercial oil reserves were discovered in the district.

“Many speculators claiming customary land have come to Buliisa district ever since oil was discovered, we need Government protection over our own land” Mr Blasio Mugasa, a former Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom deputy Prime Minister told the meeting at Buliisa town Council.

The Oil Central Processing Unit above 

Majority of Buliisa communities have held land communally since time immemorial. However, the oil discovery in the rural district has attracted wealthy individuals who are processing communal land titles into private freehold titles.

Oil infrastructure

The district will host one of the two oil Central Processing facilities (CPF) and infield pipelines that will evacuate crude oil from various oil fields located in the park and within the communities into the CPF. The feeder pipeline will also move from Buliisa district to Kabaale Parish in Hoima district where Government plans to set up a holding terminal for crude oil and an oil refinery among other infrastructure. Crude oil for export will be fed into an East African crude oil export pipeline which was launched in November, 2017 by President Museveni of Uganda and his Tanzanian counterpart President John Pombe Magufuli.

 Land Rights

Mr Moses Tumusiime, one of the project affected persons in Kasenyi village, Ngwedo sub-county (Buliisa district) the proposed site for the CPF said residents in the area are concerned that even before receiving compensation for their land and other properties, machines conducting studies for the CPF are already working on people’s lands.

“Government should not disrespect our right to own property simply because it wants to achieve its oil projects”, Tumusiime said.

“Whereas government can acquire our land for projects in public interest, we are entitled to prior, adequate and timely compensation as enshrined in the constitution. If oil companies do not respect our rights, we shall seek legal redress” said Gilbert Tibasiima the district youth councilor

Sophia Kabonesa, a resident of Buliisa sub-county believes that oil companies should always negotiate for prices of land with respective land owners so that land for oil projects is acquired on willing buyer, willing seller basis.

Government intervention

An inter-ministerial team led by the lands Minister, Ms Betty Amongi visited Buliisa district in January this year and disclosed that compensation for an acre of land in Kasinyi village will be 3.5 million. In May last year, Government had announced a compensation rate of 2.1 million shillings per acre. The residents in Buliisa rejected the proposed price which they described as inadequate. They demanded 21 million shillings per acre, then.

During dialogue engagements, residents in Buliisa asked for differing prices of land but majority preferred an acre of land to be acquired for between 10 to 60 million.

The Buliisa District Community Development Officer, Mr. Bernard Barugahara said compensation rates for crops for the 2017/2018 financial year have already been communicated by the Chief Administrative officer (CAO) to the locals.

He said disclosure for entitlements of project affected persons in Kasenyi village had commenced but there are several individuals and families that are already in conflict over land ownership and boundaries in the area.

The dialogue process

The Buliisa RDC Peter Bisoborwa closing the district dialogue.

The Buliisa RDC Peter Bisoborwa closing the district dialogue(Photo by Buliisa correspondent)

Buliisa Initiative for Rural Development Organization (BIRUDO) and Lake Albert Children, Women Advocacy Development Organisation (LACWADO) in partnership with Bunyoro Albertine Petroleum Network on Environmental Conservation (BAPENECO) and the civil Society Coalition on Oil and Gas issues (CSCO), conducted community dialogues in Buliisa district on the policy and practice aspects in the oil and gas sector, under the support of ActionAid Uganda.

The dialogues focused on the implications of the planned commercial oil production developments on people’s land and property ownership among other aspects. The engagements were conducted in sub-counties of Kigwera, Ngwedo, Buliisa, Butiaba, Biiso, Kihungya and Buliisa town council. The dialogues kicked off on 5th and ended on 12th February 2018.

The engagements culminated into district level dialogue where key issues and recommendations generated from the lower local government level were shared with the various stakeholders at the district level for consideration and further escalation.

The participants in the dialogues included subcounty Chairpersons, Sub-county Chiefs, Sub-county Councilors, L.C 1 Chairpersons, Religious Leaders, Members of the Area land committees, Members of the sub-county courts, representatives of Project affected persons, members of the civil society, elders, women, youth, people with disabilities (PWDs),  Local government technocrats, political leaders and security officers among others.

The main objective of the dialogues was to discuss on the impacts induced by the oil and gas developments in Buliisa districts in the runner up to the development and production phases.

ActionAid Uganda’s Extractives Governance Coordinator, Mr Didas Muhumuza said the engagements were meant to create a platform for all stakeholders to discuss issues pertaining to the oil and gas developments’ induced impacts that relate to land acquisition, resettlement and social sustainability aspects.

“We are happy that stakeholders shared ideas on how best to engage and cause positive policy and practice changes so that local communities can have their problems addressed in good time” he said.


The outcomes of the sub-county dialogue meetings will be used for advocacy and further engagement with decision makers at district and national level so that the concerns raised are duly addressed.


Unanimous resolutions

  1. The residents unanimously asked Government to implement for them an action plan of registering their land and safeguarding their rights in the wake of oil and gas developments.
  2. They further asked Government and oil firms to disclose to them the land acquisition process, the road map of oil developments, the Resettlement Action Plans, social and environmental impact studies’ reports among other useful aspects.
  3. They asked for special dialogue engagements for the youth, women and people with disabilities at parish and sub-county levels to enable them access information about land acquisitions and petroleum developments.
  4. Residents demanded that the engagement processes should always be timely and continuous so that they get to know issues in good time. They applauded the dialogues for having enabled them to get to know issues they should have known much earlier but no one did prepare them in good time for the challenges ahead.
  5. The residents also asked ActionAid to train them in advocacy skills in the extractives sector and support them in the formation of an elder’s forum that will advise their leaders on handling conflicts and engagements in the oil sector.
  6. They further suggested that government does not acquire their land permanently but rather gets leases so that land owners can have an opportunity of reclaiming the land after oil is exhausted.     



  1. SOURCE: Oil in Uganda

This joint initiative between the OECD – particularly its Water Governance Initiative. – and the International Water Resources Association (IWRA) seeks to provide a canvas for a scientific approach to the OECD Principles on Water Governance and their use as a tool for multi-stakeholder dialogue in different contexts. The OECD Principles, adopted in 2015, are used as a common thread across the articles to feed theoretical and conceptual frameworks and draw lessons from practical experiences in water governance reforms. All papers were co-authored by groups of diverse stakeholders involved in the OECD Water Governance Initiative, including academics, regulators, utilities, NGOs, international organisations, user representatives and policy makers.

Get the full report

Left to right, Manso Turay, James Conteh, Father Kargbo, Mohamed Barrie pose outside the Radisson hotel in Freetown on Feb. 5, 2018, before a hearing where a British court heard testimony of the alleged complicity of a British mining company in police brutality, including rape.

Hearings have wrapped in Sierra Leone from claimants accusing mining company Tonkolili Iron Ore of human rights abuses. The allegations against the company, formerly a subsidiary of African Minerals Limited (AML), cover incidents in 2010 and 2012 in the northern region of Tonkolili in Sierra Leone.

Kelly Conteh, one of the witnesses, knows he is lucky to be alive. He was one of the people shot in a police crackdown in 2012 on the outskirts of Bumbuna where AML was based. The company's workers were protesting low wages and working conditions.

Conteh was not one of them. He got caught in the thick of it trying to get to work. He said a police officer shot him in the back of the head. He blacked out. Wen he woke up, he was in a clinic.

Conteh said he saw many injured people coming in and he also saw the body of Musu Conteh, who had been shot when police used live ammunition to stop the protest.

He said when he saw she was dead, he cried and just kept thinking that this lady was innocent. "We were all innocent," he thought, "and police just came to hurt us."

Since the 2012 incident, Conteh has moved from the Bumbuna area and started a new life. But he said he cannot find steady work due to his injuries and still suffers from headaches and nightmares from the trauma.

Another incident in 2010 brings painful memories for witnesses like Ali Kargbo. He lost his brother during a village protest against an alleged land grab by the mining company. According to Human Rights Watch, hundreds of families were forced off their land with little consultation with villagers to make way for the mine.

Kargbo said neither he nor his brother were part of the protest, but his brother allegedly was beaten and arrested, and died from his injuries.

"I was feeling very sad, everyday I am crying, I have only one brother," he lamented. "I was so worried when he was in the prison. And he was paying my school fees. And after the death of my brother, I could not pursue my education."

Thirty-three witnesses testified in Freetown. Those who are claimants are seeking monetary compensation. Many witnesses were denied visas to travel to London, where the bulk of the trial is taking place in London.

It's believed this is the first time a British high court has traveled overseas where human rights abuses are alleged to have taken place by a UK-based company, according to Leigh Day, the law firm representing the local residents filing the lawsuit.

The Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone, which investigated both the 2010 and 2012 incidents, also testified at the hearings in Freetown. Abdulai Yollah Bangura, who is with the Commission, said the fact the British trial can have hearings in Freetown could be a game changer for how mining companies are dealt with when it comes to allegations of abuse outside their country.

"It's a starting point at least," he said, "to ensure that companies are actually put on their toes whenever they are doing their operations so that they don't just do things the way they want. ... Whether they have political influence, or whatever influence they can use in their operations against our poor people, I think this is the beginning of a turning point in the history of business operations in our country."

FILE - A worker sits in a hut as it rains at the African Minerals Limited port in Pepel, Sierra Leone.
FILE - A worker sits in a hut as it rains at the African Minerals Limited port in Pepel, Sierra Leone.

Even though this is a first step, communities are still affected by the work of mining operations in the Tonkolili area. Three class action lawsuits were filed this week against a Chinese company, also an AML subsidiary and owner of a controlling interest.

Sonkita Conteh, director of Namati, a legal empowerment organization filing the lawsuits, said people are reporting pollution of swamplands and streams and insufficient farming land due to mining activities.

"What we have is a situation where swamps that were used to cultivate crops throughout the season have now been covered by all sludge and tailings," he said. "it's impossible practically to cultivate anymore. …The crops that were there were killed by both the ore itself and the chemicals mixed with the ore. And water sources the community relied on have also been polluted."

No comments were available from the mining subsidiaries. A final ruling on the current trial is expected in April.



A man sieves gold from water. Thousands of artisanal gold miners were evicted from several gold mining areas in Kitumbi Sub-county, Mubende District in September last year, leaving them unemployed.


Mubende- Misery, poverty and hopelessness.

That is the state of more than 100,000 artisanal gold miners who were evicted from several gold mining areas in Kitumbi Sub-county, Mubende District in September last year.


The booming artisanal mining business came to a halt when security forces descended on the mines, instructing them to vacate the mines where they had operated for almost three decades.

Gold mining was the major activity, which attracted boda boda riders and taxi operators who provided transport, gold traders, restaurant operators, tailors, health workers and hundreds of casual labourers, among other service providers.

The residents were given two hours to vacate the mining villages by a combined force of police and military personnel.

The operation ushered more than 80,000 people into poverty, leaving many scattered in different parts of the country without a source of living.

Hardly surviving

Mr Joseph Luweesi, who went to the mines about 20 years ago as a casual labourer fetching water used in the rudimentary processing of gold, had graduated to a shop owner.


He values the shop-by the time it was looted at Shs12 million. 
“I could not save any of these items within two hours because they were bulky,” he says.


Mr Luwaasi now roasts beef on the main street in Kasanda, a small town with no tarmac road. On a daily basis, he sells two kilogrammes of roasted beef, making a profit of about Shs4,000.

“My family members in Bakka-Wakiso District are stranded because the money to sustain them used to come from the businesses in the mines,” he said.


Mr Francis Bisangwa, a former gold trader under Mubende Trust Gold Buyers and Traders Association, says he lost Shs60 million worth of merchandise in his retail and wholesale shop in the mining area.


His commercial building housed the shop and other accommodation units was also demolished.“That is how the Shs25 million I spent to construct that house was lost within minutes,” he narrates.

“That house was demolished four months after being constructed. When people were being evicted, others used that opportunity to loot everything in the shop,” a devastated Luwaasi says, adding: “I am struggling to put food on the table.”


The former gold miners are now forming a social movement in a quest to fight for their economic rights.

According to Mr Ivan Mpagi, governance officer in charge of extractives at Action Aid Uganda, this is a human rights based approach to development using the core pillars of empowerment by raising people’s conscience, solidarity through building movements and networks to address the injustices being perpetuated by big players in the mining sector, building around the networks to move the action to governments.

“If you don’t claim your rights, the government thinks you are fine in Mubende. Yet the mines where you used to earn a living were closed,” Mr Mpagi said in Kasanda town last week, during the first training session on how artisanal miners who were evicted from gold mines can fight for their interests as a group.

Forming a social movement

The more than 16 associations of gold miners, traders, money lenders, transporters and food vendors intend to use social media platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook, Google+, among others, to demand for their reinstatement in the mines.


They intend to operate under Mubende United Miners Assembly.
Action Aid Uganda believes the evictees can use social media to air their plight.


Mr John Bosco Bukya, the spokesperson of Singo Artisanal and Small Scale Miners Association, says about 60,000 people are expected to join the social movement to demand government to allow them return to the mines.


Mr Bukya who lost several drilling harmers, a gold processing centre, two boil mills valued at about Shs300 million during the eviction, says the artisanal miners can co-exist with AUC Mining Company owned by Ms Gertrude Njuba and her associates.


AUC Mining is the company that has the Exploration Lease for the 207.8 square kilometres of land that covers Kitumbi Sub-county where the mines are located.

The company that was formerly known as Gamestone International, successfully petitioned government and President Museveni that the artisanal miners were illegally mining in the area yet they had no formal permission and were evading taxes.


“That is the company that claimed we were there illegally. Yet in 2015, the State Minister for Energy and Mineral Development, Mr Peter Lokeris advised us to form an association and get a location licence within the exploration area,” Mr Bukya said.


He said after being evicted, they realised that the government did not have the political will to give them a location licence after applying for it and holding several meetings with various government officials.

President Museveni advised the artisanal miners to relocate to the nearby 10 square kilometre piece of land in Wakayiba.


However, the miners say the land has ownership challenges since the government did not buy it from owners who have homes and gardens on it.


“Taking us to an area where government did not buy that land is suspect,” Mr Bukya says, adding: “That land has no history of mining. The ministry has no report that that area has any mineralisation. They have never carried out any geological survey. It is only good for agriculture.”


Mr Bukya said they asked the President in a November 2017 meeting to devise means of taxing them.

He said on the black market, a kilogramme of gold was going for Shs120 million.
Kasanda Sub-County Chairman Isaac Kamulegeya said since the closure of the mines, about 7,000 residents of the sub-county have no source of income. This is because most of them had sold their land to set up businesses in the mining areas, nine kilometres away.


“Most of these miners are young people who can resort to crime and prostitution to survive,” he says.


SOURCE: Daily monitor

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